Sodium / salt hydration question

Simple (probably dumb) question - maybe I should’ve paid more attention in high school science…

Is there a difference between using a hydration product (like for example EFS or Precision Hydration) while training and just putting plain old rock salt mixed with water in my bottles? That’s assuming I have the same amount of salt/sodium. Are there different KINDS of salt/sodium that I should be factoring in?

A couple of times I’ve heard the guys (and Amber!) on the podcast saying maybe a bit of salt in your water bottle is all you need, particularly for 60-90min rides. Obviously if I can get away with just using salt that’s going to be a lot cheaper.

I know other products have other electrolytes, but the guys at precision hydration also say you don’t really need that during your ride - sodium (And water) is the main important thing.


I think the only factor is that may be a limit to how much chloride ion you can tolerate before gastric distress sets in. Now, if you were to use sodium citrate (still relatively cheap) like many sports drink manufacturers do…

I think Chad has mentioned this a number of times, you lose sodium at a faster rate than the chloride so its better to get it in another form.

I’ve used a variety of hydration products from cheap to very expensive. For me, it really boils down to sodium: is there enough in there? So, I am back to good ol’ Gatorade spiked with sodium citrate to bring the solution to the 1200 mg/L concentration I know I need. It’s working great, and cheap as heck.

Just search sodium citrate on Amazon and you’ll find dozens of cheap, pure product. A 1/8th teaspoon contains 400 mg of sodium - added to a standard half-liter bike bottle, that provides an 800 mg/L sodium concentration. That, plus a half-scoop of Gatorade makes a great tasting drink right at 1200 mg/L.

Sodium citrate is also great as hydration recovery aid - it doesn’t have the strong salt taste of regular table salt, so it’s easy to add to plain water if my muscles are especially twitchy after a hard ride.


Here’s one I’ve always been curious of:

If salt is an electrolytes/ hydrates you.

How come salt water in the ocean dehydrates you if you drink it?

What’s the difference between sodium chloride and sodium citrate? Two types of sodium that don’t function in hydration the same way?

And what I’m hearing is that rock salt / table salt is sodium chloride, therefore not ideal?

Chloride builds up in the gut and blocks the movement of the things you want going into your blood: sodium, water, carbohydrates, etc. Chloride passes eventually of course, just not at the pace you need it to when putting out on the bike.

Citrate passes the gut easily and doesn’t block anything.

@alexstenerson: Not completely sure, but I suspect this is the same reason sea water cannot hydrate you – too many other things in there blocking the movement of water (sea water is chock-full of mineral compounds of which sodium chloride is only one)

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It increases the salinity of your blood, drawing water out of the cells, according to an article on That sounds like a reputable scientific publication.

Hey @eric1a2krueger
That sounds pretty interesting.
Do you only use Gatorade spiked with sodium citrate or do you also use water? I’ve heard some guys say that we should have a bottle of water and a bottle of hydration products per hour. But then I’ve also heard other guys say that water is not worth carrying around (especially on hilly races) and so it’s best to only use hydration products. In your experience, what would you say is best?

The salinity of sea water is exponentially higher than any sports drink. Too much of anything is not good.

I don’t know for certain, but bet it has to do with osmosis.

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I carry both, as I prefer to wash down gels, solids, etc with plain water.

Good point… :thinking::+1:

Red Cross don’t use sodium chloride as an anticoagulant.
[nor calcium chews to counteract the side-effects of sodium citrate as an anticoagulant]

[dose is important, I have no clue the relevant quantities between ‘sodium dosing’ and ‘bleeding out’ :stuck_out_tongue: ]

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sodium citrate
i am going to order some from amazon, i cant see paying $1 per bottle for salt water. I also cant see carrying 2 bottles, i want to add something to say my murtin product.